“We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!”
Numbers 11:5-6 (NIV).
Numbers 11:5-6 (NIV).
In the waning October sunlight a mother cat and her litter enjoyed the afternoon warmth. The kittens rolled in the grass, played tag and resisted mom's efforts to clean them. Worn out from a hard day of fun they snuggled together and slept.
“Think they'll make it?” I asked my husband Joe as we watched them settle down.
“Hard to tell,” he replied.
Last winter was unusually cold. The birds appreciated the bread strewn across our backyard. Soon unexpected guests arrived; three kittens joined the feeding program. Mom and siblings gone, the trio were on their own. Survival skills still in the developmental stage, the trio delighted in finding food miraculously appear daily; their version of manna from Heaven.
Morton (all white), Hershey (all black) and Oreo (more cookies and cream, but that would be a mouthful) became regulars at Joe's Cafe. The daily offerings supplemented their diet of – whatever. Morton was the lookout. Positioned on the deck rail with an unobstructed view into the kitchen, he'd wait each morning for the first sign of life. Alerted that breakfast was on the way the kittens would line up for the buffet.
“Corn muffins today – nice texture.”
“Warm raisin biscuits, and with glaze! How tasty.”
Cookies with sprinkles – our favorite.”
Everything was gratefully received and shared with their feathered friends. Former adversaries ate at the same table. Breakfast expanded into lunch, afternoon snack and dinner. Cats and birds enjoyed the extended seating times in peaceful co-existence.
Spring arrived. The kittens, older and more adventurous, were veterans of outdoor survival. They broadened their territory; expanded their palette. We noticed a subtle but distinct shift. No longer as thankful for the daily rations, they'd become picky.
“Raisins again – we had them yesterday.”
“Croissants – we're tired of them.”
“Don't you have any doughnuts?”
Their attitudes turned markedly ungrateful. When food was put out they'd sniff, take a bite, turn up their pink little noses and leave.
“Let the birds have it.”
“Leave it for the black Labradors. They're dumb. They'll eat anything.”
The peaceable kingdom relationship with the birds ended badly. Things were no longer the same. Our furry friends, like the Israelites, tired of the everyday provisions that appeared from nowhere. The menu was too predictable and boring.
We strive to reduce God to a formula. If we can predetermine how He'll act we can reason our way out of a life that demands faith. Our cats on the back deck and the Israelites demonstrate this very principle. God in a box grows stale; gratitude devolves to complaints. Give us something more spectacular. Even when He does comply with our desires, we're not satisfied. No matter what, it is never enough to suit us.
Perhaps we don't see God move more because we're blind to the miracles we're already receiving daily. Taken for granted, His acts disappear into the landscape of our lives unnoticed. No longer on center stage they fail to capture our attention.
This winter is proving to be as cold as last year's. The cats come for handouts and still maintain their persnickety attitude. I doubt they'll change, but I can. I need to be more attentive and sensitive to God's daily blessings: sun for warmth; air for breath; food on my table and a roof over my head for starters. I can be thankful for and fascinated by everyday miracles. These become the foundation for receiving even greater things from God.
How about you? What has become so commonplace in your life that you forget to give thanks for it? In what ways is your life better than others who have less than you do? How about those who have more than you? What has God given you or done for you that all the resources in the natural world can't procure?